More and more increasingly we are hearing about the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. This is nothing new. It is as old as the beginning of time, in fact you will find references to sexual harassment in the Bible. Man since day one have looked at women not as partners or as soul mates the way it was intended but as objects, someone to control and push around. Women are to serve their needs and don’t ask questions, they don’t have a mind of their own and need a man if they even want to survive. These are very contradictory statements considering the strides women have made but the problem is not all of us stand on the same playing field. And here’s the thing, there are those of us out there that WANT a man to take care of them and thus taylor her life to his. This opens the door to a lot of questions like, “Why can’t she provide for herself?” and “Does she know how bad she’s making it for the rest of us?”. The truth is No, she doesn’t. The reason being is because she was always told that in order to be successful in life or to be stable, she needs to marry a man who will talke care of her-preferably a rich man. This is one of the reasons why men think they way they do about women, that they want to be taken care of, they like it when a man asserts his authority over her, it makes her feel ‘wanted”.
There is also the position of power that makes a man feel entitled to this kind of behavior. But we can also look at it this way. There are a plethera of scenarios out there that place women below men in many instances. We see it most definitely in entertainment media, politics, social justice and corporate america. The recent headline of Harvey Weinstein and his sexual escapades forced him to step down from the Weinstein Company because of the many allegations against him of rampant sexual harassment. According to the New York Times one-third of Weintein’s all-male board resigned after hearing about the allegations. That’s very telling. We have a President that has and still continues to sexually harasss women-even in front of First Lady Melania! Countless male politicians have and still do it as well, Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner to name a few but of course there’s much more. When it comes to social justice women are always the last ones to receive it if they get it at all. Then there’s corporate america……I think that speaks for itself.
Sexual harassment is a human rights violation that steals women’s ability to function professionally and do their job effectively. And most importantly, it’s illegal. But women are still having a hard time coming forward, why? Because there is something called “retribution” which can come in many forms and the most popular is the lose of a job. Another popular reason being that if they are the ONLY voice speaking out they won’t be believed. It will be brushed aside as she was flirting too much or he said something to her she didn’t like and now she’s claiming sexual harassment. Then comes the ostracization in the workplace making it a hostile environment to work in resulting in a resignation. If we look at both sexual harassement and rape they garner the same response and reaction, they are basically one in the same. There are many injustices done to women in the US but very few are exposed and when they are, victim blaming sets in and pushes women more into the shadows to deal with their trauma and anxiety alone.
There are so many things that tie in together that affect how women in our society are being treated. The unrelentless barrage of sexualized images of women, gender stereotypes, unequal pay, rape, assault, pornography and human trafficking. These are just a few. The overall view society has of women and yes how other women view eachother also affect us.
Women everywhere are plagued with harassment in some way. If we look at the Middle East and North African countries you will see the blatant street harassment that borderlines on sexual assault and rape. In Egypt 99% of women are experiencing sexual harassment in the streets so much so that the organization HarassMap based in Cairo has set up a system where women can report harassment from anywhere. Unfortunately, that’s all they can do because the government won’t stop it. Come to think if it, neither will this one.
All of us have a lot in common and if we are to make things better for women and girls all over the world the way a lot of us claim, we really need to be a unified voice. No more victim blaming, slut shaming and racial bias. It’s the oldest strategy in the playbook, divide and conquer and a lot of us fall for it every time. I know there may be exceptions to the rule but those are few and far between and EVERY claim no matter if it’s one or one hundred women, it needs to be taken seriously.
If there is a time to raise young women to be fearless, independent and who can be okay with or without a man, the time is now. Their sole existence should not be to rely on someone who doesn’t value or respect them……ever.
These last few months have been a climate thrashing for Houston, Florida and the British Virgin Islands, but most recently Puerto Rico. We started with Harvey that pummled Houston, then two of his mean sisters came blowing in. Irma ravaged Florida, soaked and destroyed the British Virgin Islands while Maria basically annihilated Puerto Rico. But Mother Nature gave some mercy by weakening Irma’s little brother Jose pushing him far north so the Virgin Islands can try to recover from the destruction and devastation. But it seems Puerto Rico is the illegitamate child of the United States.
President Trump’s visit was less than reassuring, it was downright patronizing. Telling Puerto Ricans that they need to “get it together” and “work together for a solution” is not the way to comfort people who have lost everything. What’s worse is he questioned their leadership when they asked for help! And not surprisingly the criticisim was mostly aimed at the female leaders of the island. So the people are now begging and pleading and crying and screaming for help. They are even kissing the feet of Trump and stroking his ego just to get some kind of aid.
Puerto Rico is still in political deadlock with the US and just like the kid who is “different” they are asking to be accepted. And by the way, Puerto Ricans are helping one another, by way of the United States. Families that have migrated to big cities like New York are gathering everything they have and they can get their hands on to send to those family members and friends who are hurting. Just about every latino whose not Puerto Rican knows that they have to help, why doesn’t our govenment know that? Marches in the streets, social media campaigns and even modest donation boxes in businesses and neighborhoods consume New York City and all of it’s boroughs. No one knows what will happen but when people get desperate, chaos breaks out and there’s no telling what will happen next. The most vulnerable are of course, women and children.
If vaccines and medical suppplies are not flowing in the way they should, food supplies are dwindling and no one has anywhere to go, it’s much worse than a bad situation. We all know what happened when hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and Louisiana. When supplies and aid were nowhere to be found and people were displaced in stadiums, there were reports of rape, abuse and exploitation. We do not need Puerto Rico to spiral down in that direction. What’s truly needed is food, clothing, shelter, Medicine and PROTECTION. Every person is in a vulnerable state right now and pushing them over the limit is a recipe for a bigger humanitarian crisis. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen because if basic aid doesn’t come neither will conflict resolution.
When Irma decided to vacation in the Virgin Islands, the residents payed for her stay by being displaced and giving her all of their possesions to destroy. They almost had another guest on their list but he decided not to stay. Jose headed north and never looked back. But then something interesting happened. They got help, REAL help. They are on the path to rebuilding and there are some signs of recovery. They are probably the only place where one of the twister sisters hit that is not crying out for help. Maybe because they are not subject to the tyranny that is Trump. They answer to a different body, the UN and the international community who do things differently than the Trump administration. They help.
Both Florida and the Virgin Islands were hit with the same winds and floods but yet one is being rebulit as we speak and the other is scratching their heads. Texas was promised $1 million from Trump but has seen nothing. What it has seen is ICE picking up Mexicans in the area to send them back, I guess there’s more room in the budget for deportations than rebuilding. If we are considered a wealthy country, then why can’t we recover from natural disasters and keep people safe? The Virgin Islands will be up and running before Texas gets the million they were promised. No one has heard anything about Florida. Katrina was about 17 years ago and STILL they have not fully recovered, and that was a different administration. Puerto Rico is no different.
Bien mis amigos puertorriqueños y mis hermanas puertorriqueñas, ahora eres ciudadano estadounidense. How does it feel?
The world is on fire. At every turn there is a new crisis screaming at us from every corner begging and pleading for help. Humanitarian help. The kind of help that will save them, give them their life back, make everything okay and the bad go away. Humanitarian work is extremely important at this time and so many agencies are struggling and projects are not getting approved because of the political climate. Politics are getting in the way of people’s lives and their right to simply exist. The waters have become treacherous and the ship of hope is sinking. Between migrant boats being blocked by hostile borders, refugees being turned away and the attempt to wipe out countries like Syria and Yemen, the flood of badly needed aid and protection never ends.
Partnerships and allies don’t always agree on foreign policy but sometimes they can agree on stifling humanitarian work. By allowing airstrikes on places where families, schools and hospitals live it can do more than hinder badly needed resources getting to those caught in the middle through no fault of their own. Foreign aid workers must risk their own lives to help others and if they die, who will help them? When this happens, there is a call for all humanitarian organizations to leave the country becuase it’s not safe. But then it’s not safe for everyone right? These people are there because they’ve signed up to do this work. If they were afraid, they would have never taken the job. To say that the life of an aide worker is worth more that the life of a civilian trying to escape the horror around them is ludicris. If you look at Syria, the devastation this is still going on and the White Helmets are the only rescue team there. Even they are crying out for assistance, but governments will not allow it. Yemen is a nightmare and launch pad for Saudi Arabia’s “Beef” with Qatar leaving so many Yemeni starving and full of disease. They keep running from death but it seems to find them every time. No humanitarian or aide worker in site. Russia’s Putin, a supposed ally to President Trump, deliberately closed US Embassies in Russia mainly because he didn’t like one of Trump’s speeches. This was a severe blow to humanitarian work and collaboration and it also but a lot of people out of a job. Trump’s response? He did the United States a favor. Wow.
President Trump’s September 19th UNGA speech was a severe blow to any potential advancement for peace. Provoking and attacking Kim Jong-un, Leader of North Korea and all out bad mouthing Iran while crticizing the UN was not a successful moment for the United States. Internet trolls will have you believe otherwise but all in all it was a disaster. The language and visceral content President Trump expelled was neither diplomatic nor presidential. Believe it or not this is a huge blow to humanitarian work as a whole. If Russia has closed their US Embassies who knows what other countries will do the same and may become hostile to the United Nations. The United States dispatches a large number of organizations to countries in war, conflict, poverty and instability. If we lose the right to be able to do that many will suffer. Those of us that do international work rely on our co-workers and partners in other countries for information and strategizing. If we lose that then they will suffer more. Of course there is a lot of human rights work to do in the US, I mean we’re no better than any other country. We have tortures, dissappearances, human trafficking, corruption in government, law enforcement, rape, murder, domestic violence, slavery-shall I go on? But we are also in the crossfire because cuts come down the charity road first while the IRS knocks at our back door with their hands out.
Here’s the good thing. All of us who do this work are so passionate that we will never give up. We will be at every protest, assembly and press conference, we will uphold the true values of people in America that want suffering to end and peace to succeed. We are humanitarians.
With all of the achievements women have made, not all of us are moving together, as a matter of fact, there are a lot that have been left behind. Education in the United States is a privilege not a right, having a place to live, food and security has also become a privilege and not a right. As of 2010 46 million Americans are living in poverty with unprecedented numbers living in extreme poverty. Single Mothers are twice as likely to be as poor as single Fathers, according to the USDA 35.1% of households headed by single Moms were “Food Insecure.” They didn’t have enough food at all times for an active healthy life. Women who are victims of domestic violence lose an estimated 8 million paid days of work each year forcing them deeper into the poverty cycle. Respectively women with breast cancer are 11% likely to die if they live in a low-income community with no access to healthcare.
Depression is a toxic by-product of poverty for women. Low-income women are more likely to develop postpartum depression and deliver pre mature babies. They are aslo more likely to be diagnosed with other menal health disorders. All of these numbers become higher when a single woman of color is the head of the household. 13.5% of White women, 27.5% of Black women and 24.7% of Hispanic women were living below the povery line in 2009.
It is unfathomable to think that this could be happening in the United States. This is a country where women who live in countries where being a women is a dangerous thing are looking to us as a beacon of hope. How can we offer hope if we are hopeless. Our capitalistic system favors the multi-millionaires and those living in the high tax brackets. The first cuts that come down to trim the economy are ALWAYS social programs that help women in poverty get on their feet. Our current administration threatens to cut nutrition programs for single women and their children, there are massive cuts to programs that keep women safe from domestic violence not to mention reproductive rights and healthcare. When women are thrown to the streets they are at risk for rape, murder and trafficking and so are their children. Education is unattainable when you can’t survive on your own. With the gutting of immigration laws it makes it increasingly harder for Hispanic women to make it through. DACA is at risk of being eliminated which in turn will increase the desperation of many looking for a better future.
Another problem the United States has is the mass incarceration of women but mostly women of color. According to the Southern Coalition for Justice African American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated, while Hispanic women are 69 percent more likely than white women to be incarcerated. The number of incarcerated women has increased by 800 percent in the last three decades. Fact: 1 in every 100 African American women are in prison, African-American women are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than White women. The war on drugs and the mandatory minimun sentencing has had a negative impact on the African American community. Mental illness, race, class coupled with police brutality has proven to be one of the number one culprits of the jailing of African American wonen.
Sandra Bland was one of the most heartbreaking casualties of the disproportionate Justice system that always gave African American women no chance at a future. Sandra grew up in a poverty stricken segregated area of Texas, as a young woman she inundated herself with her church and school activities. Sandra had a history of traffic tickets, fines and arrests, mentally she was breaking down and she couldn’t afford care. She became depressed and had suicidal thoughts. She later got pregnant and suffered a miscarriage. In July Sandy was pulled over and brutalized by a Texas State Trooper. In the county jail she told a guard she was feeling depressed, put on suicide watch, but no one came in for any intervention. She was charged with assaulting an oficer. A few days later she refused her breakfast and begged to be able to use the phone. After that, Sandra Bland was found hanging from her bathroom in her cell with a noose around her neck. But there is footage that suggests otherwise. Sandra Bland repeatedly begged for her life as officers bound and beat her until she was inconcious. Sandra died in 2015 from something that could have been prevented. She is the perfect example of how women, especially women of color with mental illness are dehumanized and treated as throw away human beings.
The mental heath system in this country has failed so many women and left them in isolated poverty. We have become less the land of opportunity and more of a wasteland of women. We have failed in bringing hope to the hopeless.
Just this month Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law the Sandra Bland Act which mandates that county jails divert people with mental health and susbtance abuse issues to treatment instead of jail time. It will make it easier for a personal bond if they have a mental illness or intellectual disability. It also makes it easier for independent law enforcement agencies to invesigate jail deaths. This law took effect September 1, 2017-a little too late.
There is a disturbing trend that is starting to gain some noteriety, finding a Sugar Daddy. Universities across the country are filled with young women going to college on their Sugar Daddy’s dime. And now there are websites that are al dedicated to young women who need a Sugar Daddy. Now from what I have observed most of these young women do not come from broken homes, dysfunctional families or abusive parents, they just want someone to provide for their needs when life gets too complicated and their parents aren’t willing or can’t step up. Most really want it for college so that they can get their degree and move on to better things. But then this begs the question of what about the ones who work to put themseves through college? Is there something more going on their lives?
Even though some of these young women consider themselves Super Feminists the idea that a woman needs a man to survive really supercedes modern feminism on many levels.
Seeking Arangement pairs together Sugar Daddies with their Sugar Babies. She must be young and very attractive as well as discreet because most of the Sugar Daddies are married with families and they don’t want their wives finding out. The image that is put out there is one of two people having a good time and the young lady is perfectly happy doing-well-whatever. But this in not the reality. The photos you see on these sites are young models with either slightly older well dressed attrative men and Father/Grandfather types. Most of the time it is the much older men who end up being the Sugar Daddy not the latter. The photos don’t represent reality, it plays into the fantasy that older men have of helpless young women who need a “Father Figure” to guide them and get something on the side in gratitude for what they’ve done for them.
One UGA student recants how she lost her HOPE scholarship because of depression. She couldn’t tell her parents so what started out as a joke turned into a serious decision to be a Sugar Baby on SeekingArangement. She explains how there were quite a few men who wanted her to perfom sex acts which of course made her feel uncomfortable. The men that she did find gave her a small allowance of just $200 for which she still worked two extra jobs. According to her, some girls get the big bucks when they get involved with men who are high class from New York, California or out of the country. You can see the full story here:
These are usually not decisions that are made lightly. There can be the correlation between companionship and prostitution. A lot of girls have to really tell themselves that what they are doing is okay and there’s nothing wrong with it. They know the scrutiny that will come when they tell someone they know. They don’t want to have to justify it every time it comes up. It’s a secret that most keep to themselves or find a close circle of friends they can confide in and not be judged. I don’t think anyone knows how we really got to this point but it is worth examining why it’s gaining ground and consuming the lives of young women and on some level devaluing them. It’s almost as if her Sugar Daddy will say the he “made her” when she becomes successful, like she could never have done anything without him becuase she’s a woman. This is a very dangerous precendent to set especially in today’s climate of unequal pay and women having badly needed services and programs cut like violence against women, access to food and healthcare services. Maybe parents need to support their daughters more and come together as a family to find the right solution. Maybe new programs and services need to be created to help low income women. Whatever the solution is-being a Sugar Baby is the most popular right now but not always what it’s cracked up to be.
For some girls it’s a means of survival, to stay in school, not be homeless or in poverty, for some it’s being able to launch a passion to a business and still for others it’s about living the extravagant life. Whatever the reason is, some sisters are NOT doing it for themselves.
We have known for a long time that America has been the place for a new start for many across borders. So many come for the American Dream, the chance to make a fresh start, start a business, a family, a new home. Now, that dream has been deffered for many-including americans. Xenophobia, Islamaphobia, Border Walls, Border Patrol and Immigration all conributing to the war on people seeking a life free of war, poverty, sexual violence and the list goes on. It’s always the most vunerable who get a taste of what american justice really looks like. Children in detention cells not understanding what they did to deserve the place they are in right now. Women forced into trafficking and domestic violence situations are lost, fearful of being deported back because the nightmare will not end there. What is everyone so afraid of? Jobs? C’mon. It’s a proven fact that most if not all americans would NEVER take a job that immigrants do and get paid the same wage as they do. In fact it is americans hiring them so they can pay them little for doing the jobs that they know full well other americans would not take. So that’s not an excuse. Crime. Ok well you don’t have to be an immigrant to commit a crime, look at the mass shootings in churches, movie theatres and malls, those were not immigrants. Most of the women that are being murdered in the United States are americans killed by their american husbands or boyfriends. On average more than three women are murdered in the United States by their husbands or boyfriends. Not immigrants.
For many years women have been under the radar when it comes to trafficking whether it’s labor or sex. Now they have the spotlight and the undivided attention of law makers who want them out, they’re criminals and don’t deserve to be here even though they fit the true definition of a trafficking victim. Anything illegal is viewed as a crime even if you are the victim. The so-called vetting process is tainted and one sided, for those of us who loved Melissa McCarthy as Spicer, you want to be Barbie not Moana if you want to live. Continue reading “How Do We Win This War?”
I don’t usually write about immigrants and refugees without talking about human trafficking surviors or survivors of exploitation and abuse. But this is far too great and all consuming not to write about. Now let me first say I was born in the United States to immigrant families. I was not raised in a white-anglo household, one part of my family was very Sicilian and the others were Spanairds with a French mix that seemed to come from an African Country colonized by France. I myself am light skinned with ethnic features, I do not identify as “White” in the same way White European people do. I was not privileged by any means and worked very hard for most of my life and i’m still struggling. I say this because sometimes I feel there is a misconception about being “White”. Not every white skinned person is privileged or even know what it means to be privileged and that’s because their skin may say white but their ubringing is not. They don;t identify with Western Europe i.e. Scandinavia, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, etc. They come from a variety of ethnicities but because their skin is white it is assumed they NEVER had to sruggle, this is a great misconception.
Right now, waves of African immigrants are coming to the shores of Sicily escaping war, conflict, poverty and persecution. Who are the people that are taking them into their businesses giving them jobs, bringing them into their homes where they become part of the family get an education and start their future? Sicilians. It’s because we know the paniful truth of what it’s like to be oppresed, treated like a slave and have your rights taken from you. To this day, even in America, Sicilians are still helping African Americans in many ways. I remember growing up hearing Sicilians being compared to the racial slur that is used to decribe the black community. Our ways were different, our food was different, the way we spoke was not considered civilized or proper. We had to be “Americanized” to submit to Anglo ways and forget about our culture and family history. Then the assimilation process began. It didn’t happen right away though, but as we see now we have a watered-down Sicilian American culture that considers theselves above the rest. But it wasn’t always like that. What happened? People were scared. They blended in the same way African Americans “act white” because they don’t want to be treated different. They have a very tumultuous history with the United States and on some level so do Sicilians. We don’t see Black or White, Latino, Asian, Arabic etc. We see people. It makes me sad to see people no matter what their background is, be devoided of their culture and ethnicity just to blend into White America.
The police state is here to stay and fear is the God that torments immigrants from going outside just to get food. This is the age of ICE when even those of us that were born here stop and think “will I be stopped?” I remember taking a trip to San Diego (which is really Mexico) for work and decided to take a walk over the border to Tiajuana for shopping and a little sight seeing at the popular Avendia Revolucion. Going past the Mexican officer was not a problem at all as I do speak some spanish but not much because you know-‘Merica. So I walked across the border with as I like to say “Just me and the Mexicans.” It was a sobering experience. Every day hundreds of Mexicans cross that border to come to San Diego to work and then cross back to go home. They cross to work in a country that was theirs and now they need permission access it and be treated like a criminal. I met a really sweet woman who travels to her home country of Mexico all of the time. She was hoping to set back to San Diego soon to go to church. Coming back into the United States did not prove to be as easy as leaving. When I finally got to border control to cross over I was stopped by a gallon of milk young white border patrol officer who apparently didn’t think I belonged in the United States and seemed to have an itchy trigger finger. So very calmly I expalined to him that I was just shopping and sight seeing, with that he asked for my passport which is standard. So I handed it to him. When he saw the places I’ve been, and will continue to go to, as well as my last name which didn’t neccesarily fit the places I’ve been, he immediately when into are you a terrorist mode. I again calmly explained to him that I was shopping and even offered to show him what I bought and have him search the bags. He didn’t flich. Still asking me a myraid of questions. When he saw that he couldn’t scare me or find a way to detain me, he let me go. Even though my Latin heritage isn’t from Mexico, I got a first hand experience, albeit not a rough one, of what a lot of Mexicans face when trying to enter into the United States. Imagine having to go through this everyday in country that used to belong to your own people? And this was BEFORE Trump. Continue reading “Make America Scared Again”
Don’t Ask Me For A DonationTax Season, Holiday Season, Giving Tuesday, these are all times of the year when organizations send out email blasts to everyone and anything to ask for money. In general there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as your legit, it’s cool. But don’t expect a struggling organization to donate to you. Especially when you don’t know anything about them and they’re just another name to put on your “List of Donors.” Even worse, when you do know them and their financial situation and STILL you ask them for money-that’s just wrong. Here’s an example. Say you sign up with an organization that promises to raise thousands of dollars for you instantly. Sounds awesome right? Wrong. Nine times out of ten most of the people on the donor lists are organizations that are using the SAME service for the SAME thing and are also asking for money. As if other organizations will give up their donor list for you. Very unlikely.
Many people doing non profit and charity work are cash poor and in need of funds quickly. But often times these are non profits that operate with a full staff in a building that’s dedicated for them. Everyone has a salary and the organization works with a full Human Resources and Legal department. These organizations are put on lists with other non profits that are working with a bare bones shell with little visability and in need of basically, everything. This becomes a very unhealthy imbalance. You have well known and established organizations competing with start ups. It is inevitable that the more well known non profits will reap more of the benefit because their faithful donors will give more and encourage others close to them to do so. This leaves others out in the cold after they were promised that it wouldn’t be hard to raise at least $10,000-$20,000. Most leave with nothing.
It’s all about the Benjamins.
Raising money is the worst and hardest thing about working in the non profit sector. Sometimes it gets so bad you almost wish you were back at a steady paycheck job, at least you knew money was coming and when it was coming. But of course, would you really be happy? The prospect of going back to that is not the first thought on most people’s mind however, if trying to do both is a strong consideration, then it may be a choice that needs to be made. If you want to keep your work alive, you yourself must live. Most Idealistic world changers know that you don’t go into non profit work for the a six figure salary. Realistically, if somone is making a six figure salary there is something really wrong happening. But we all have bills to pay and our personal living as well, it’s not unrealistic to want a “Living Wage” as part of your budget. Depending on where your based that wage can look different.
Getting funding is like playing the Lottery, ya’gotta be in it to win it! It’s also about connections, networking and who you know. The usual. In a perfect world, states would give equal funding, depending on the needs of the non profit, to all legitimate organizations that fight for specific issues. This would eliminate the funding competition and might actually encourage them to work together instead of against one another. Now that would be a change for the good. Of course, like with anything, there will always be those that want to outshine everyone else but at least they are getting no more than everyone else. It will also help organizations who misuse funds to be more accountable on how they spend the money.
This is a battle that has been raging for quite sometime now and the war continues. Some are very well armed and equipped for the battlefield, others are forced to fight on the sidelines because thier armor isn’t strong enough yet. Then there’s the people who are hard to get a hold of in their office because they had to get a second job. The struggle is real.
Sometimes doing what you love and have a passion for can be a lonley road. It can feel like you’re the only who decided to do something without a step by step diagram and years of planning. Maybe it was complacency or stress at your current job that you wanted so badly to walk away from and waited for any chance. Maybe it was seeing others achieve their goals and doing what they love and you thought ” I can do that too!”. Of course you can. But before we start, we must realize that everyone starts in a different way. We don’t all start with a lot of money, influence and the right connections. Some of us start from right in the dirt getting messy just to be clean again. But you know something? That’s the best place to start. Why? Because you’ve never had to rely on anyone else, you know what it’s like to truly fight for what you have and what you need. No one else calls the shots because this passion, this desire, is all yours and no one else’s to take. This has been put on your heart, it consumes your soul and you will not rest until it is finished.
There is something special about going at it alone-in the beginning that is. It takes you on a journey that you would have otherwise never been on had you had all of your needs met right from the start. If you had your picture taken with celebrities, walked the red carpet of human rights, were invited in the cirlce of influence and riches. Those things can be helpful for recognition and funding but you have a faster crash and burn rate going that route. Don’t get me wrong, running things basically on your own does have it’s negatives like not being invited to the party with the cool kids i.e. big government funded organization (with no transparency I might add), people who will donate and getting little to zero visibility. That’s when the work must speak volumes, scream if it has too. There’s a lot of loud music and deception that must be broken through to get your voice heard so drink some hot tea and get your vocal chords ready!
Going at it alone doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. The people you meet are what makes it worth it. Of course you will run into those that say they love what you and want to support you but nothing ever comes of it and that’s okay because you don’t need that weight. You may also find there are a lot of people that will try to weigh you down but you don’t need that excess baggage. At some point the right people will come alongside of you to join your journey because they truly believe in your passion and seriously want to help you. Now they may not be many at first and you’ll still be doing most of the stuff but it’s good to know you have solid people who are right there for you when you need them. You can be awesome as many and just as awesome as one.
My name is Samantha Inesta, I am the Founder/Executive Director of BeaSister2aSister. I’m going at it alone because my passion is bigger than me.
We hear many things about survivors. How brave they are, how it’s a miracle that they are still alive, etc. Whatever the situation was, this person is here to tell their story. But what happens after their story is told? Over and over again. There is another level of survivor that they now must go through, the level of survivng. Mental traumas lead to mental breakdowns, PTSD becomes a lifelong struggle and the world is not a kind place for someone who fights with these issues. Imagine being afraid just to go to the grocery store on the corner because you know there are look outs waiting for the chance to see you alone to re-victimze you. The slightest glance from a stranger can send you into a frenzy and someone accidently brushing your arm turns into a full blown attack. These are triggers, triggers that a lot of human trafficking survivors must survive if they are to continue to live a full, independent and purposeful life.
Encouraging a survivor to constantly relive their nightmare by speaking of their story on a continuous basis sets them up for severe trauma. How are they supposed to move on if no one is allowing them. This is used by countless organizations for funding purposes with little regard for the survivors well being because, “it’s okay you know, we’re giving them counseling.” No amount of “counseling” is going to release them from the constant pain that they feel every time they tell they’re story. It makes me think of the Yazidi women and girls who were kidnapped by Isis and turned into sex slaves. These women have suffered severe trauma on many fronts. When they tell their stories-which are incredibly horrific-they cry uncontrollably. There’s a reason for that. They don’t want to remember, they just want to move on. But yet here they are on almost every international news media station telling their story-yet again being re-traumatized. They have escaped and survived Isis, now they must learn how to keep surviving when the onslaught of media, NGOs and society come pounding on their door.
If there is one thing that I have learned doing this work is that no matter where a survivor is from, they are all treated the same. Governments, NGOs, Non Profits and even well intentioned Activists all play a part in re-victimizing them. Sickening enough, some of them know what they are doing is wrong but they keep doing it because it makes them look like a “Good Person.” There are programs that will sheild and offer safety, but they also create dependence. It’s like if you want us to help you, you need to do something for us so you will continue to get our help. Too many survivors know the familiarity of this statement. Give something to get something. This is not the way to help survivors and try to end human trafficking because this method will more than likely push them back into slavery. Co-dependence, overworked and underpaid counselors, services that do not meet their needs and dealing with a lifetime of depression are just some of the elements that will push them into being re-trafficked.
Once a person has made it to survivor they must learn what that actually means and the current definition is not doing it justice. It’s not enough to be a survivor, you must learn how to survive so that you will not be re-victimized.